by Paul Alan Levy
Louisiana lawyer David Groner has made a few mistakes. Which was the most serious?
David Groner's Misconduct Toward Clients
At some point time before January 18, 2007, one of Groner’s associates filed a lawsuit on behalf of some clients in the wrong venue; the defendants moved to dismiss. Groner’s firm nevertheless paid a small amount of money to the clients, but, apparently, left the clients believing that it was the defendants rather than Groner’s firm that were making the payments, leading the clients away from thinking about the possibility that they might have a claim for malpractice. The clients ultimately learned the truth, then complained to the Bar; the upshot was a joint petition for discipline, signed both by Groner and the Office oi Disciplinary Counsel, calling for a deferred six-month suspension from the Bar because of what the joint petition called “at a minimum, . . . a misrepresentation as to the true nature of the January 18 transaction." The state Supreme Court characterized its ruling as having stemmed from an “investigation into allegations that respondent engaged in a conflict of interest and engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.” Groner later told blogger Eugene Volokh that “dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation” is simply one of the categories into which the Louisiana Supreme Court places disciplinary actions, and hence that the use of this phrase did not mean that he engaged in any “dishonesty, fraud or deceit”; he felt that the only fair characterization of the conduct for which he was disciplined was “misrepresentation.”
When Groner ran for public office in 2011, his consent discipline was raised as an issue against him.
Groner’s Misuse of His Position as an Officer of the Court
Then, in late August 2015, when the Daily Iberian, a local newspaper, published a story about a case that Groner was handling, an anonymous commenter sniped at Groner by referring to “the truth [having come out] about Groner having a reputation for engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation.” Groner sued the Daily Iberian and, based on an ex parte verified complaint that he did not send to the defendant, he obtained a temporary restraining order forbidding the newspaper from “publishing or posting . . . any article or story in which plaintiff . . . Groner is accused of dishonesty, fraud or deceit in connection with a Louisiana Supreme Court decision or similar matter.”